A Reflection on the Milwaukee Bucks vs. New Orleans Hornets Game
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"This game is more like a circus than a basketball game," one fan uttered in disgust from the row behind me.
A friend of mine bellowed, after a particularly disgusting turnover, "Trade 'em all, it's time to tank the season for a lottery pick!"
"Some of the worst basketball I've seen," another fan declared.
The only positive energy I could see around me at the Bradley Center was a 5-year-old child wearing an oversized Bucks jersey dancing throughout all breaks in the action and clapping for every shot made by her beloved Bucks.
Even the infinitely effervescent Squad Six seemed to succumb to the melancholy surrounding them.
It made me realize firsthand what has been well-documented elsewhere in this compressed NBA season in one of those, "you don't believe it fully until you experience it" type of deals.
The NBA strike and a long-time losing franchise has the remaining fans up in arms.
Furthermore, the diehard fans in the hardworking, blue collar town of Milwaukee carried the resentment of the millionaires lockout with an axe to grind. Perhaps there are some lessons in this game that may make or break the Bucks from here on out.
General Managers are human, coaches are human and players are human.
Yet we want them to be Greek gods solely because they make a lot of money playing a game.
Another lesson: In one of the worst eras of unemployment in American history, it's probably not too smart to have a lockout over which millionaires get more of the billions that come from fans, especially if your league isn't anywhere near as popular as the NFL.
As I witnessed the pathetic New Orleans Hornets throw wishy-washy, soft passes in random looping directions (never to be stolen by the Bucks), I realized this Bucks team was on the verge of collapse barring a major gut check.
Sitting there in section 204, I didn't get the feeling either team really cared to win the game.
Certain individuals seemed to thrive.
Chris Kaman is certainly playing with a purpose, even if it's to insure his trade from the club. I admittedly hadn't heard of Marco Belinelli until this game, and the man from Bologna seemed like he couldn't miss if he tried (6-7 from three-point range, 2-2 from the charity line and 1-1 in two-point attempts).
The Hornets would do a halfhearted drive to the hoop, flail about one of those off-target, gentle circus passes to Belinelli and Belinelli treated the offering as if he was given the best feed in NBA history, knocking everything down with a deafening swish.
Meanwhile, the Bucks only bright spot was Ersan Ilyasova's effort; he generated 23 points, seven rebounds and two blocks despite a poor field goal percentage.
In light of the Bucks recent struggles, is it time for...
The team revolves around Jennings, and I swear his energy was only going at 110 percent for two-three minutes of the whole game. The rest was like a walk-through exercise for the whole team.
The vibe I get—and it's just a hunch—is there's some inner turmoil in the Bucks locker room.
Recent public comments where Jennings defended the lackluster Stephen Jackson suggest a rift in leadership between Skiles and his only true star. Jennings' play during the losing times suggests he can turn it on and off like a mood switch.
I left that game thinking, if Jennings played 110 percent for 10 minutes instead of two, it would be a blowout Bucks win. The other realization: The Bucks as a whole have a major crisis to work through at this midseason juncture.
With this loss as a microcosm, I believe the Bucks should try to shake off this slump and get it together.
Tanking seasons for picks who may or may not be superstars does not make a winning franchise in the long haul. I like the Bucks roster—they just need to shake off this incredibly lethargic, pouty attitude I witnessed at the Bradley Center this week.
Perhaps they can steal a little magic from the struggling Orlando team and ride it to Disney World via a solid playoff showing. Otherwise, this franchise may be running out of staying power, jeopardizing the future of many downtown businesses and the hopes of innocent fans like the 5-year-old super-fan who just wants to see some entertaining basketball.
One thing's for certain: If Drew Gooden is going to complain about the fans not coming out, he better back it up by motivating his teammates to play hard each and every day.
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